Responding to the Tragedy in Newtown, CT

Although it has been several days since the horrific events in Newtown, CT, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and community members whose losses seem to be more than we can contemplate. Even before the healing begins, we know that it will be a long time until the raw, open wounds close and that for many, the scars of trauma and loss will remain forever.

The URJ has resources available that can help you and your entire synagogue community address the many facets of this tragedy.  We encourage you to use this information and to return often for updates:

  • The caring community section of our website provides materials about coping with communal tragedies, bereavement and the death of children. Included are prayers and meditations, as well as suggestions for explaining such tragedies to children;
  • Finally, the Reform Movement’s statement in the face of this senseless shooting, “reinforces the need to ensure that common-sense gun control laws are in place to help reduce these incidents…and call[s] on members of Congress, the President and people committed to the well being of all Americans to find shared values on gun control measures that will help ensure the safety of us all.”

May the souls of those lost find eternal peace in the shadow of God’s wings and may their loved ones, the citizens of Newtown and the surrounding communities, and, indeed, all who mourn with them, find comfort, strength and healing in the days and weeks ahead.

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

About Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the president of the URJ. See his full bio and other writings on the URJ website.

3 Responses to “Responding to the Tragedy in Newtown, CT”

  1. avatar

    I am 16 years old and I am a junior at a Jewish day school in Chicago. I participate in NFTY and BBYO. After Friday’s tragedy, I was asked to write a presentation on the massacre. I wrote words that came from my heart as a Jewish teen. Take the time to read this; every word is worth it. Thank you.

    Why children? Why a school? Why 26? Why first graders? Why don’t people pay more attention to mental health? What about the families? Why do I know the shooter’s name and not a single victim’s name? How could his past be so damaged that he feels the only way he can recover is to take away the innocent’s future? Could I have done something? Could anyone have done anything? Am I truly safe at school? Why do mass murders keep happening? How are the survivors and their families as well as the community ever going to recover from this tragedy? Why during the most joyful season of the year? How can anyone comprehend burying 20 children and 7 adults in one week? Why?

    At 9:30am on Friday, December 14, 20 children and 7 adults had their innocent lives tragically taken from them at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Tonight, we gather together as Jews to offer prayers of healing, comfort, love, and peace for every single being affected by this heinous massacre. Even in the darkest of times when we cannot imagine having enough to go on, our tradition offers us reason to trust that there will be light and joy again in our lives. Rather than centralizing on the darkness of this massacre, we focus our attention on the light that beamed in each of the 27 innocent victims.

    Charlotte Bacon – 6 years old – she loved dresses and school and her beautiful curly red hair
    Daniel Barden – 7 years old – a soccer player and swimmer who embodied everything that is wholesome and innocent in the world
    Olivia Engel – 6 years old – an amazing big sister who was always active and appreciative
    Josephine Gay – 7 years old – she loved riding her bike and having lemonade stands, her seventh birthday was just last Tuesday
    Catherine Hubbard – 6 years old
    Madeleine Hsu – 6 years old – she was a sweet girl who always wore bright flowery dresses
    Chase Kowalski – 7 years old – the perfect little brother of two sisters and the apple of his parents’ eye, he never failed to say hello to the neighbors while playing baseball outside with his dad, all he wanted for Christmas this year was his two front teeth back
    Jesse Lewis – 6 years old – brave and curious he was killed running into the hall to help, he loved to play with the animals and think of far-fetched “what if’s….”, he was learning to horseback ride before his passing
    Ana Marquez-Greene – 6 years old – new to the neighborhood she was the most vivacious and spunky girl in the first grade
    James Mattioli – 6 years old – the swimmer with the 1,000 watt smile
    Grace Audrey McDonnell – 6 years old – looking like the most beautiful barbie she would wait at the end of the street everyday for the school bus
    Emilie Parker – 6 years old – a sunny natured gorgeous girl who was a best friend to her two younger sisters
    Noah Pozner – 6 years old – the youngest and only Jewish victim he loved his family and his twin sister who survived the shooting
    Caroline Previdi – 6 years old – she earned the nickname “silly caroline” for her caring smile, everyday on the bus she sat with a kindergartener so he wouldn’t be scared
    Jessica Rekos – 6 years old – the first born who was called the “CEO” of the family for her want to plan every detail, she was a cowgirl at heart
    Allison N. Wyatt – 6 years old – quiet and shy yet so extremely loving, she enjoyed gardening with her mom
    Benjamin Wheeler – 6 years old – loving older brother, son of two musicians, his nickname was “crash” for his clumsiness
    Avielle Richman – 6 years old – she would wear her pink cowboy boots while riding her horse, she asked for an easy bake oven for christmas so she would be able to bake her mom cookies
    Jack Pinto – 6 years old – he idolized Victor Cruz (Giants wide receiver) who honored him after word of the news, he was in the wrestling organization in Newtown
    Dylan Hockley – 6 years old – his family made the move from the UK to Newtown just two years ago and he was loving school, to know him was to love him
    Rachel Marie D’Avino – 29 years old – her true passion was her occupation, as a behavioral therapist, she died a hero protecting the children she loved, her boyfriend was going to propose to her this upcoming christmas eve
    Dawn Hochsprung – 47 years old – as the principal as the school she gave everything she had to the families of Sandy Hook including at the end her life, she was a wife mother and grandmother, she cared very much about her students so much that she immediately lunged at the shooter when he entered the school
    Anne Marie Murphy – 52 years old – she was an aide at the elementary school who did everything she could to protect her students, she was a mother of four and a loving wife
    Lauren Rousseau – 30 years old – she was on cloud nine when Sandy Hook offered her a full time substitute-teaching job, she passed doing what she truly loved, teaching was her passion
    Mary Sherlach – 56 years old – she was the school psychologist, she was a mother of two great girls who she loved dearly, she didn’t think twice when danger entered the school and lost her life protecting the students of Sandy Hook
    Nancy Lanza – 52 years old – her own along with 26 other innocent victim’s shooter may have been her son, but she should be remembered for her love of jazz music and outgoing personality
    Vicki Leigh Soto – 27 years old – when she heard gunshots in the school she hid her students in the closet and told the gunman they were in gym before he took her life, she was the oldest of four children, family and friends filled her life along with her passion for teaching, she died a true hero

    As we watch each victim’s light shine, we pause for a moment of silence

    May the survivors of the Sandy Hook school be blessed with the knowledge that God watched over them and may they dedicate their lives to living and being happy. May the wounded, of body and soul, be granted a full and speedy recovery. May the families of those who died find comfort somehow in the knowledge that God will care for their loved ones in a better place than this world could ever be, that many are grateful to the teachers and principal who tried to protect the children.

    לברכה זכרונם
    May their memories be for a blessing.

  2. Larry Kaufman

    Sarah, it is generous of you to include Nancy Lanza on your list of “innocent victims,” but I am not at all sure she belongs among the innocent.She was the purveyor of the gun culture and the supplier of the guns.

    If we wanr to find a ray of light in her murder by her son, it is that it gives the lie to the claims of NRA types that there should be more guns, so that we can protect ourselves.

  3. avatar
    Rabbi Shaul Praver Reply February 18, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Thank you Rabbi Rick Jacobs and Sara Splansky for your most thoughtful, wise and kind words!

    Please Know one additional important thing:

    Newtown doesn’t want to be remembered as the town
    of the tragedy, but rather a bridge to a new kinder world.
    Let’s work together to make that happen. All of us under
    one huge tent united in the cause of birthing a culture of peace, regardless of race, religion or denomination.

    Thank you again!

    Rabbi Shaul Praver
    Congregation Adath Israel of Newtown

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